Tag Archives: Jewelry

An Interview with Vesna Taneva-Miller

An Interview with Vesna Taneva-Miller

Meet Vesna Taneva-Miller, folk dancer, quilter, painter, jewelry maker, crocheter and crafter. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for years, since she dances with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers, but I didn’t know how talented she is in the arts until another dancer told me she saw a rope bowl made by Vesna featured in Phoenix Magazine. (Click this link and scroll down. It’s in the Textiles and Home Décor section.)

You are a wife, the mother of two children, and you work for Alaska Airlines. How do you find time for your art?

I don’t always find time, and I am not always a perfect mother and wife.  It’s not like I have dinner ready, dishes done, laundry folded and put away and now it’s time for art.  Sometimes none of those things are done, but I am at my table creating because that’s what I need to do at that time.  It’s really give and take and you put time and effort into the things that matter.

Vesna cropped-image1

You’re active in many media: drawing, painting, jewelry making, sewing, crochet—have I missed any? What is your favorite way to make art?

Ah gosh, I don’t have a favorite.  I go through cycles, so I have times when doing watercolors is my favorite.  A few months later sewing is my favorite and so on.  Sometimes I am a bit jealous at artist that focus on one media and get really good at it.  I am not a master at anything, I just like to try everything.

What inspires you to create?

Many things.  Nature for sure. Places, experiences, feelings. Other artists.

Vesna Taneva-Miller; art; Zentangle

Zentangle gems

Do you have your own dedicated workspace for making art?

I am lucky that I do.  It’s an addition to the back of our house that was already there when we bought it.  It didn’t initially have a/c but we added a window unit.  It’s always in a state of disarray, a total mess, much like the rest of my home.

Do you have a theme or an underlying message in your art?

I love bright colors.  For me it represents life and playfulness, easygoingness, peace, comfort.

Vesna Taneva-Miller; art; jewelry

Snowflake pins

Some of your art is sold through Art-o-mat. Tell me how that works.

Art-o-mat is a community of artist that sell small pieces of original and affordable art at $5 in vending machines that formerly were cigarette vending machines.  I first saw it at the Vision Gallery – downtown Chandler, AZ.  They have one.  I bought a few pieces of art and was hooked and wanted to be a part of it.  Each piece is handmade, so therefore an original.  It’s the size of a box of cigarettes and it’s like a surprise machine for adults.  You put in a coin, you choose an artist represented by a small plaque and possibly what you may be getting, but each piece is different so you never know what you get until you get it.

Vesna Taneva-Miller; crocheted pumpkins

Crocheted pumpkins

You teach for Skillshare. Did you have to shoot your own videos? Is it difficult to give instruction in front of a camera?  

I’ve only done a couple of classes for Skillshare.  [ARHtistic License says: Don’t sell yourself short–I counted six!] I keep breaking my own promise of doing more.  Yes I have to film the videos myself.  Luckily my husband edits them for me, although that’s a struggle for me because I am so uncomfortable with asking for help or asking someone to do something for me.  I do find it difficult to talk in front of the camera with no one standing behind it.  Filming my hands making stuff is much easier for me.

Vesna Taneva-Miller; art; jewelry

Cardboard earrings

What is one of your most favorite pieces that you’ve created, and why?

I am not sure if I have a favorite piece.  I have a lot of fond memories making small art quilts.  Jewelry – necklaces made with fabric.  Doodling mandalas with watercolors.

What is it about creating art that gives you the most satisfaction?

It’s like entering another dimension where you don’t have to worry about whatever is happening in real life.  It’s like an escape.  A coping mechanism.

Vesna Taneva-Miller; art

Cactus from Vesna’s art journal

What challenges have you encountered in your art, and how have you overcome them?

I need to stop comparing myself with others.  It’s a challenge.  It’s really hard in a society of social media where everyone shares their best, mostly.  I have to remind myself that I am me and they are they.  That I just have to keep doing my thing.

What is the best creative advice you’ve ever been given?

Tell your story.  Share your process.  Blog.  Of course I have not been consistent in doing all of these.

Who is your favorite artist?

I have a few: Colette Copeland, Kathy Cano-Murillo, Alisa Burke, Sharon Nullmeyer, Cassie Stephens.

Vesna Taneva-Miller; sewing; crafts

Easter bunnies

What is a project you’re looking forward to making?

One day, hahaha, I’d like to have my home in a perfect state, decorated, custom upholstered, cool murals…….one day, one day.  I ask myself why not today and go crazy at the size of the project.

You love to travel, and your job helps make that possible. Where are some of the places you are planning to go in the future? If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you make your home?

I’d like to go to Iceland.  Also I’ve never been to Montana.  I am not sure that I know where I’d like to make home.  I’ve lived in a few places that I am conflicted.  Each place has part in my heart as home.  So I am not sure for now.

You’re from Macedonia. How did you end up in the United States? Given the current political climate, do you experience discrimination?

I came to the US when I was 16 as an exchange student.  This was in the mid 1990s.  I’ve never felt bluntly discriminated, although I have felt alone and different and that I don’t always belong, or don’t know how to relate even though by now I understand both my culture and this culture very well.  But I am not sure if that’s just a personal issue or discrimination.

Creative Juice #121

Creative Juice #121

Ending the year with lots of creative ideas.


Creative Juice #11

Creative Juice #11

Fourteen articles to impart sweet delight to your day:

Yarn and Beads

Yarn and Beads


In a previous article, I posted a video featuring this VW bug decorated with millions of tiny seed beads (Photos by Museo de arte popular). It was my introduction to the art of the Huichol people of Mexico.

Here is an explanation of the origin of Huichol art:

Thanks to websites like Etsy.com, authentic Huichol art is readily available without a trip to Mexico. All the below items were for sale as of mid-August.

Animals have particular significance to the Huichol. (Click on the smaller images for an enlargement and to see the captions. Click on the links below for purchasing information.)

Wolf. Deer. TurtleBull.

Traditional designs are employed in these beautiful necklaces.

Chokers. Medallion. Yellow/orange necklace. Red necklace. Sun necklace.

And also in other useful articles.

Dog collars. Wallet.

Circular bead painting

Circular bead painting.

Like some of the Native American tribes of the Southwest, the Huichol take part in ancient peyote ceremonies to contact their ancestors to seek healing and advice. The artwork is inspired by these journeys.

Vintage gourd bowl

Vintage beaded prayer bowl.

Shaman yarn painting. Skull.

Want to see some more?

Creative Juice (Your Input Needed)

Creative Juice (Your Input Needed)

I’m thinking of starting a new Friday feature on ARHtistic License: a compilation of articles I read online each week that appeal to me, and that other creative people (like you) might enjoy. Here is the initial batch:

So, what do you think?

Was there anything here that tickled your fancy? Would you check in with ARHtistic License every Friday if I continue? Did you read (or write) an article this week that would interest creatives? Please share in the comments below.

Fantasy Jewelry as a Byproduct of Cancer

Fantasy Jewelry as a Byproduct of Cancer

Israeli artist Shirli Matatia created drawings and sculptures all through her young life, but it wasn’t until after high school, when she saw jewelry designer on a career skills questionnaire, that she knew how she wanted to use her talent.


Matatia earned a degree in jewelry design from Shenkar College in Israel, then worked for five years as a goldsmith in a gold and diamonds jewelry factory, learning the practical side of the industry.

Then, in 2008, a lump she discovered at the base of her neck turned out to be cancer.

During chemotherapy, losing her hair provided her with the motivation to try something new. Since she didn’t like wearing a wig or a hat, she toyed with the idea of taking attention away from her head by making herself a cool piece of jewelry. She created a silver leaf and berry cartilage earring.

Leaves and berries
(Honestly, it’s so cute, I’m considering getting my cartilage pierced.)

Though her treatment was successful, the realization that she could die any day burdened her heart.

She decided to quit her day job and open her own company designing, manufacturing, and selling her own line of jewelry.


Manufacturing isn’t exactly the correct term. Each item is hand-crafted.

“I usually begin with a sketch to get the general idea down,” says Matatia, “and then I start to think about the technical aspects of how I will produce it. Next, I hand-make a prototype of the design in wax or sheet metal, and from there, a rubber mold is made for casting the designs in gold or silver. That part of the process takes two to three weeks, depending on the materials; it definitely requires patience. When I have the cast pieces back, I do my soldering and finish the jewel. The best part of my job is seeing the finished design for the first time — when I finally see it in real metal and it comes to life.”

Because the pieces are made by hand, if a client would like something customized, say, out of gold instead of silver, or with a different stone in it, Matatia can usually make it to the customer’s specifications.

Matatia sells her creations in her two Etsy shops.

Here are some of her selections from Shirli Classic Jewelry (you can click on the smaller images to view an enlargement):

And the styles shown below are from her Fantasy line:

Many of the pieces are inspired by Celtic designs.

WowThis is my favorite (it’s the piece I saw while surfing Etsy that made me want to find out about the artist), but I don’t think I can wear it. My ears stick out too far. Plus, I’m an old lady–it might look weird on me.

Which one is your favorite? Share in the comments below.